RAIN, RAIN & MORE RAIN
I’m scaling Mt Gould in the Central Highlands in Tasmania with my mate Nick. Its 2 degrees Celsius, raining, visibility is less than 200 metres and I have a full pack of photographic and camping gear. We’re on a three day wilderness adventure and due to unpredictable mountain weather we are hiking in the rain, camping in the rain, cooking in the rain… and shitting in the rain.
In addition to this we only have a map and compass to guide us and virtually no means of seeing any distant landmarks. This makes it a struggle to navigate through slippery rock faces, double overhead boulder scree fields, head high thick scrub, and knife edge mountain ridges. At one point whilst crossing The Minotaur it takes us over an hour to force our way down a very steep rock face through thick bush only to arrive at the top of an impassable 200 metre high cliff!
Oh well, dead end, “let’s go back up and try another way”.
CLEARING THE MIND & FEEDING THE SOUL
So “why am doing this?” I ask myself. Of course anyone who is a wilderness photographer can answer this – “to find that epic scene”…. but there’s more to it than that.
The Central Highlands is in the 1.6 million hectare Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which is “one of the last true wilderness regions on Earth and encompasses a greater range of natural and cultural values than any other region on Earth”.[i]
I am passionate about this part of the world and love being in the wild. It makes my heart sing and with my mind 100% focussed on survival, navigating, mateship, pristine wilderness and photography – everything else falls away, so it clears the mind to seek more spiritual things like nothing else I know.
Wilderness landscapes is my favourite genre of photography and it seems to me that the deeper you go into the wild and the tougher it is, the better the shots.
Starting out from Lake St Clair we take the ferry to Narcissus Bay. After a climbing a steep track through rainforest we emerge on top of Gould Plateau and savor spectacular views of Lake St Clair and Mt Olympus to the south, and Mt Gould and The Guardians to the north. It’s a special place and fortunately the clouds part for a few minutes as the sun sets, revealing a colourful light show across Mt Gould and The Guardians (pictured at the top of this blog).
The next day we traverse Mt Gould, cross the steep spine of The Minotaur and negotiate the twists and turns of The Labyrinth to arrive at Lake Elysia for the night. This takes over 9 hours of hard slog. Visibility is poor so photography is limited to a few shots highlighting the unusual dolomite rock formations in The Labyrinth.
THE LABYRINTH & PINE VALLEY
We pack in the rain and take a route back through The Labyrinth and down the steep track to Pine Valley – a mystical ancient world of ferns, mosses and tall old growth trees, adorned by the cool running waters of Cephissus Creek. The valley is filled with the familiar earthy aroma of Tasmania’s cool temperate rainforests, and offers a peaceful nights shelter in the luxury of a hut.
After a good night’s sleep we descend through Pine Valley to emerge in the open woodland and Button Grass plains at the southern end of Overland Track, and as if waking from a dream the weather clears and the sun starts to shine. We arrive back to Narcissus Bay to take the ferry back to civilisation.
The strange thing about this trip is that even though the miserable weather caused many challenges and a low yield of photos, it is still one of my most memorable walks. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
[i]. Parks & Wildlife Service, Tasmania
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